Self-serving study falsely claims union members are exempted from laws governing certain types of criminal activities
HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 9, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The corporate fueled right-wing attack on workers' rights opened a new front in their war against the middle class with the release of a self-serving U.S. Chamber of Commerce study alleging some Pennsylvania laws were written to exempt unions from criminal statutes.
Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President Richard Bloomingdale today called the Chamber report "an exercise in imagination intended to further erode the rights of workers in a system loaded with unfair advantages and toothless penalties favoring corporate bosses and greedy CEOs."
Mr. Bloomingdale said, "Any laws on the books that were written to give basic protections to workers pursuing their rights to collective bargaining were drafted to stop union-busting lawyers from manipulating the criminal code to further their anti-worker crusades. In reality we need more laws protecting workers, or at least enforce the ones we have, to prevent bosses from illegally firing and demoting workers seeking a union, force employees to sit through captive audience anti-union meetings, threaten to move or close worksites if workers unionize, stalk union organizers on Facebook and other social media sites and generally intimidate employees with impunity."
The Chamber study specifically claims there are "numerous 'labor exemptions' from criminal statutes, as well as policies that provide structural favoritism toward labor unions in the states with the highest union density."
Frank Snyder, Secretary-Treasurer of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO took issue with the Chamber statement citing that "States with the highest union density also have the highest standards of living, the lowest infant mortality rates, the highest educational achievement rates, the best health care delivery systems, the most diverse economies, the lowest percentages of people living below the poverty line and numerous other social and economic advantages. These important economic and social benefits are partially or fully attributable to laws in those states that provide a more level playing field for workers to pursue their right to bargain collectively for family-sustaining jobs and a foot on a rung of the middle class ladder."
In a 2009 authoritative study by Kate Bronfenbrenner (http://www.epi.org/publication/bp235/), the Director of Labor Education Research at Cornell School of Labor and Industrial Relations, Ms. Bronfenbrenner found in an analysis of National Labor Relations data a rapid intensification of employer opposition to union organizing. The NLRB data demonstrated it was standard practice for workers to be subjected to illegal tactics including threats, interrogations, harassment, surveillance and retaliation for union activities. The report cited that "employers threatened to close plants in 57% of (union organizing) elections, discharged workers in 34%, and threatened to cut wages and benefits in 37% of elections." Additionally the study found that in "63% of elections employers used supervisor one-on-one meetings to interrogate workers about who they or other workers supported, and in 54% used such sessions to threaten workers."
Ms. Bronfenbrenner's study concluded that the meager penalties that may be levied against companies that engage in illegal union busting activities provide no real disincentive for employers to obey the law. The primary remedies include simply posting a notice at the worksite admitting to engaging in unfair labor practices and in the case of discharged workers, compensating with back pay less any income the worker may have earned after being fired and generally without being reinstated to the job the fired worker lost.
Said Mr. Bloomingdale, "The facts speak for themselves. The abysmal record of illegal union-busting activity tallied by corporations, their anti-union lawyers and front-line managers proves beyond a shadow of doubt that workers need all the legal protections they can get in a system that is unjustly stacked against them. The financial penalties levied against the corporate law breakers for their illegal activities are a mere fraction of the money corporations make denying workers the right to bargain collectively for fairer wages, reasonable benefits and safer working conditions. This Chamber of Commerce study is a fraud."
SOURCE Pennsylvania AFL-CIO